Title: Alternate Reality: A LOVE STORY
Author: Debi C
Pairing: Daniel and Sha'uri, Jack and Other Female. (Confused yet?)
Category: Gen, Alternate Universe, Established Relationship. Romance, Angst
Date: December 28, 2002
Season/Spoilers: Season 5. Stargate (the movie), Children Of The Gods, Secrets, Forever In A Day. Series: We'll see.
Archive: Alpha Gate,.The Comfort Zone, Heliopolis. Incoming Wormhole, TheBoy. Anyone else please ask.
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel take a wrong turn out of the Stargate and wind up on an alternate Abydos, but things aren't as similar, or as simple as one might think.
Notes: Inspired in part by the Stargate Novels of Devlin and Emmerich and a terrible imagination. Aided and a-beta'd by CelticAngel, Devra and Joolz.
Warnings: Minor Character death mentioned in passing. Some Language. Intense situations.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/ Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I do not own the characters and indeed am only playing with them for a little while. Jack and Daniel belong to each other. I am not making any money from this and I'm still paying for everything I own so there's very little point in suing me. No copyright infringement whatsoever is intended. The story is for entertainment purposes only. At least I hope it's entertaining. The original characters, situations and story are mine. Please check with me first if you want to archive or link to this story.
The song is When I Dream At Night by Marc Anthony off the CD Marc Anthony
'When I Dream At Night' by Marc Anthony from the CD Marc Anthony
have been in love and been alone
have traveled over many miles to find a home
that little place inside of me.
I never thought could take control of everything
now I just spend all my time with anyone
makes me feel the way she does
I only feel alive
I dream at night
though sheís not real itís all right
I only feel alive
I dream at night
move that she makes she holds my eyes
I fall for her every time
so many things I want to say
be ready with the perfect moment comes my way
had never known whatís right for me
the night she opened up my heart and set it free
now I just spend all my time with anyone
makes me feel the way she does
I only feel alive
I dream at night
though sheís not real itís all right
I only feel alive
I dream at night
move that she makes she holds my eyes
I fall for her every time
I just spend all my time with anyone
makes me feel the way she does
I only feel alive
I dream at night
though sheís not real itís all right
I only feel alive
I dream at night
move that she makes she holds my eyes
I fall for her every time
ALTERNATE REALITY: A LOVE STORY
By Debi C
Colonel Jack O'Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson of SGC SG-1, stepped out of the wormhole into a hot, dry atmosphere and a dark room where sand and wind whispered through tall stone columns. O'Neill walked off the pedestal stairs of the Stargate, into the center of the room and gazed around in confusion. "Daniel, what the hell did you do?" Jack asked as he turned to his travel companion.
The archeologist, who had crossed the room to the Dial Home Device, and was examining the apparatus with a frown, returned the tone of voice in kind to his team chief. "What? Nothing! Why is it that whenever anything goes wrong, you always blame me? I didn't do it! What did you do?"
The Colonel scowled at the other man. "Me? I didn't even touch the DHD! You dialed us out and we wind up here, wherever here is." The professional military officer looked around unhappily. They were supposed to be on a tropical planet to join Carter and Teal'c, the other two members of SG1. They were on a desert planet; one that looked familiar...then it occurred to O'Neill where he'd seen this particular pseudo-Egyptian temple before.
"Look, Daniel, if you wanted to come to Abydos you should have just said so." Jack walked around the sandy area directly in front of the Stargate. "Hell, I would come with you. I mean, it's not like we both don't have leave available. I could use a vacation myself. But, now, we're supposed to meet Carter and Teal'c...."
"Jack, listen to me for a minute," Daniel had dropped his pack and was looking around the room suspiciously. "I did not dial Abydos. I dialed P3H-2527." Daniel Jackson glanced back down at the DHD in front of the giant naquadah circle. "And besides, this isn't Abydos... at least not our Abydos." He indicated the room with a sweep of his hand.
"What do ya mean, our Abydos? How many Abydoses are there?" O'Neill insisted, turning around and scanning the walls of the room they were in, still not convinced his friend wasn't playing a 'Stump The Colonel' joke on him. "Look, there's the Stargate and the DHD." Jack strode through the temple antechamber, out the huge doorway and into the burning sun. This is the temple, there's the Pyramid, and..." Jack stopped short, mid-tirade. "Oh, I see what you mean."
Jackson nodded at him, "Exactly. It's different. We shouldn't be able to see that," he indicated a geographic formation in the distance "...and look; the Pyramid has been damaged since our last time here." He shook his head and glanced back at O'Neill, "well, this pyramid has anyway."
O'Neill nodded back, looking critically at the large scars in the stonework of the larger of the two structures. "So I see...lots of explosive debris, like a bomb."
"Or a death glider attack." Daniel added his guess.
"Actually, it was neither." A familiar voice came down to them from the top of the largest dune in a nearby formation, echoing across the shifting desert sand. "It was a demolition charge set by the Army Corp of Engineers."
"The what?" O'Neill turned towards the source of the voice. "What the hell were the...? Oh, shit."
"Uh, Jack." Daniel's shocked voice drifted over his shoulder as the younger man took up his customary position behind his friend.
Two identical voices answered him in chorus. "Yes, Daniel."
The tall, slender bearded man slid-walked down the dune to stand before them. He was lean like a desert wolf; darkly tanned wearing typical Abydonian robes, long grizzled hair pulled back in a queue, with a full graying beard and piercing brown eyes. He carried an M-16 automatic rifle like an extension of himself and had a 9MM pistol holstered on his hip. Above them from on the dune, a group of similarly armed young native men stood, watching the newcomers carefully. Their eerily familiar leader studied the two men before him for a moment then grinned at them, white teeth flashing in the dark beard. "Humph, You look like you haven't missed a meal...Jack."
"Yeah, well, uh...you look like you might have missed a few." O'Neill responded. "Jack."
"Dr. Jackson looks good, fit." The newcomer continued on in a casual tone. "Been working out a lot, Daniel?"
Daniel looked at him incredulously. "No," he replied. "Not a lot." He glanced from the newcomer to his Jack. "Is he who I think he is?"
The other man made a small bow with a flourish. "Colonel Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil, United States Marines: retired, retreated and reinvented. A.K.A. O'Neil of Abydos, General of the militia." He indicated the tattered but well armed group at the crest of the slope with a slight motion of his hand. "Boys, meet the Militia."
"You never left?" Jack pushed the question out between his teeth, into the hot dry desert air.
The other O'Neil looked back at him cheerfully. "Oh yeah. I left, went back home, got the note, signed the divorce papers and came back." He shook his head depreciatingly. "Sara wouldn't come. She doesn't like the heat." He glanced up at his group and shouted something to the band of warriors in their native tongue. The young men all obediently turned and headed back the direction they had come from. O'Neill looked at them a minute then turned to follow the group. "Come on, boys, might as well meet the rest of the family." He indicated the way with a jerk of his head. The two newcomers glanced at each other and followed.
"Uh, don't get me wrong." Jack asked his Abydonian counterpart after following the group of men for a distance, "but why aren't you surprised to see us?"
The 'other' Jack had slowed down and waited for them to catch up to him in the sand. "Well, I've seen enough things come out of that damned gate till almost nothing can surprise me anymore. Now these boys," He indicated the band of young men who had now effectively surrounded them as an escort "they never saw me like that...looking the way you do. That's why you're not getting much of a reaction from them. When Skaara sees you...well, we'll explain and he'll get it."
Daniel, who had been exhibiting all signs of being pole-axed by the unexpected developments, looked up sharply. " Skaara's here?"
"Sure, where else would he be?" 'Jack' glanced sharply at the young scientist. "He's not dead...in your reality...is he?"
"No, he's not dead." O'Neill assured him. "He was possessed by a Gould for a while, but we managed to get him free with the help of a group of aliens known as the Tok'ra." He looked at his bearded self. "Have you met them yet?"
O'Neil just looked at him and shook his head. "Nope. Should I?"
O'Neill just shrugged. "No, not necessarily."
The walk to Nagada was about the 'right' distance and on the outside, the city still appeared the same basic structure, a sort of middle ages cum crusades fortified village. As they entered though, they started to notice more, smaller changes. It was cleaner, or so it smelled, and the people welcomed O'Neil, Jack's other self, as a returning savior, speaking happily to him and clearing a path for their party through the crowded street.
As they passed through the throng, a young woman's voice called out to them from a doorway. O'Neil stopped and looked in that direction. A beautiful dark haired woman in her early twenties ran to him and hugged O'Neil around his neck. He returned her enthusiasm with a firm embrace and a fast, hard kiss.
He turned to face his guests and smiled at the two men's surprised expressions. "This is Seja, my wife." As he introduced her, a small toddler scampered out onto the street to grasp the young woman's skirts with upraised arms. The Abydonian Jack picked him up and tucked the child to his chest where he promptly grabbed his father by the beard. "And this is our first born...Jhakell." He chucked the boy under his fat chin and loosened the hands from his facial hair. "Aren't you big guy?" The baby crowed and laughed at his father's attention, babbling in baby talk. "Ordinarily I'd take you to Kasuf, but he and Skaara are out of town on business, so I'm sorta in charge."
He handed the toddler back to his mother and patted him on the head. She asked him something in her native language. He glanced back at the pair and answered her, nodding affirmatively.
O'Neill looked over at Daniel, who translated for him. "We're invited to dinner."
Jack O'Neil smiled, watching his young wife's graceful form walk back towards the fairly large townhouse. He then turned to his guests. "Welcome to my Abydos, boys."
As the two newcomers followed him to the house, Jack asked, "Is your Daniel here, too?" as much for his Daniel's sake as his own interest.
"Oh yeah. He lives a street or two over, but I'm not sure he's home now." The other Jack looked amused. "They spend a lot of time at the old cartouche temple translating the hieroglyphs and other stuff that he finds there."
"They?" Daniel asked curiously.
"Well, Dr. Jackson and his family. He takes them with him...the whole kit and caboodle of 'em." O'Neil laughed. "It's a good thing he's married to the headman's daughter. He couldn't afford them all otherwise."
O'Neill looked confused, Daniel stunned. "Family?"
"Oh, yeah! Sha'uri and the two little ones, and there's another one due in a couple of months." He looked fondly after his wife who was entering the house carrying their child. The boy was looking back at his father, grinning over her shoulder. "Though I can't talk much with my own number two on the way."
"Sha'uri" Daniel spoke it softly. "She's here?"
The Abydonian Jack looked at him curiously as he held the door open for his guests. "Well, sure. Where else should she be?" As they entered the house, he directed them to a large central area of the house.
O'Neill watched his friend's expression run a full gamut of emotions. Finally he said what Daniel was unable to. "She's dead in our universe. The Gould possessed her; she was killed by our teammate as she was trying to murder Daniel with a ribbon device."
Jack looked taken aback, glancing from his counterpart to the younger man. He shook his head at his counterpart. "Tough..." He led the two men into the living area where he indicated a couch and some chairs made of a material that resembled woven Persian rugs. As the three men sat down, the small boy ran into the living room and crawled happily into his father's waiting arms . The Colonel nodded. As O'Neill glanced at the child he saw Charlie's face looking back at him. He closed his eyes, then took a deep breath and changed the subject. "So, you're in charge of the Militia? Is there much need of one here, now?"
Jack O'Neil looked back to him and nodded, understanding how his other self must feel seeing his son, Ihakell. He put the boy down and the child ran off into the other room in search of his mother. "We still have our moments. Rival clans, internal divisions and of course the odd false god or two." He glanced back towards the door. "The damage you noticed on the pyramid was done when the so-called goddess Hathor and her group of Jaffa bullyboys came to call." He answered with a quick grin, flashing white teeth in the dark beard.
"Hathor? She was here?" Jack looked surprised.
"Oh, yeah. The second battle of Abydos. So you know her too?"
"Oh, yeah." Jack answered, unconsciously imitating his twin. "The second invasion of Cheyenne Mountain." He glanced at his Daniel who still appeared deep in thought. "She nearly succeeded, too."
Daniel was looking dazedly back towards the door that led out to the street that Jack had indicated. "Can I see her?"
The two non-identical Jacks shared a look between them. O'Neil answered, "Sure. Sha'uri may be home even if the clan is at the dig site. I'll take you later. But for now, just relax." He stood up as Seja O'Neil entered the room bearing a tray with some metal flagons and plates of food balanced on it. "My wife is not only a knockout, she's a great cook."
Several hours later, O'Neil led the way down the narrow alleyways towards a large, imposing building. At the other two men's surprised expression, he explained. "Daniel is an important man here. He's the, hum...I guess Vizier is the closest thing to call him. Advisor to the Headman, Scholar, Wiseman, and," Jack grinned "sometime Magician."
At O'Neill's wondering look, he continued. "He can read enough Abydonian now to make some of the old god, Ra's creature comforts work. The natives think it's magic." He shook his head. "Daniel still tries to tell them it's just modern science, but the old folks will always think it's supernatural."
As the tall man was leading them to the residence, Jack dropped back to talk to his friend. "Uh, Daniel? Are you sure this is a good idea?" He watched the younger man carefully. "After all this isn't your Sha'uri."
Daniel looked at him and nodded. "I know. I just want to see her, to know that somewhere, she's happy."
The other Jack had stopped at the gate of a small, enclosed garden and turned to listen to the other two men talk. "Daniel, she's as happy as a woman can be here. She has a family; a house of her own and a wonderful man who's so in love with her, he can hardly believe his life is real." He smiled. "When I first met my Daniel, I couldn't figure out how he had managed to make it from one day to the next, a real dweeb, if you know what I mean." He looked at Jack, who nodded then smiled back. "But here, here he's found himself. He's a respected teacher, a loving husband, and a great father. He speaks at the Council meetings, is respected by the elders, and loved by just about everybody. He's a judge, an explorer and some consider him a bit of a prophet. When General West and the U.S. Military tried to use these people to mine the Naquadah like Ra had, well, he and Sha'uri led the revolt against them and gave the Abydonians the first freedom they'd had in over 3000 years. I'm proud to call him my friend."
Daniel nodded, a sad expression on his face. "I'm glad that somewhere... we made it."
O'Neil clapped him on the back and spoke softly. "You did Daniel, you did good."
When they reached the doorway of the Jackson residence, their host knocked on the heavy wooden door. He looked back at them. "Let me explain this to her first. She is six months pregnant, and I don't want to scare her." The two newcomers nodded and waited while he pushed the heavy door open and entered the dwelling ahead of them. After a few minutes, he came back and motioned them to come in. The interior of the home was cool and dark, softly lit by taper lamps. The young woman who waited inside was sitting on a couch covered with an ornate needlepoint rug. She rose awkwardly as they came in, her expanding midsection throwing her off balance. Jack took her arm and assisted her in getting to her feet. She looked at them with wonder and spoke in a softly accented voice in English. "You are welcome in our house."
O'Neill nodded to her. She was a little fuller in the face than he remembered, but that could be from the pregnancy. Otherwise she was indeed the Sha'uri that he remembered from six years ago. She was a beautiful woman to begin with, but happiness had added a special glow to her warm attractive features.
Daniel looked ready to pass out. He could only stand and stare, devouring her with his eyes, seemingly powerless to speak at all. He just stood there, helplessly looking. Sha'uri smiled shyly at him and spoke in a soft voice. "O'Neil says you are like my Danyel, but not so much, I think." She giggled. "I would have known anyway. My husband is not so...hard...so strong. You are a warrior...he is a gentle man."
Jackson could only stand and shake his head. Finally, he found his voice. "I became what I am looking for my Sha'uri after she was stolen from me."
The Abydonian wife gazed up unhappily at him. "She could not return? She was terrible sad for this." She dropped her eyes. "I know how it would be for me...without my Danyel."
Jackson bit his lip and looked around the room, trying desperately not to let his tears spill. "Nice place." He murmured.
Sha'uri smiled at him through her own glistening eyes. "My Danyel is a good husband. He gives us all he can, more than we can need."
"Because he loves you..." Jackson started to look at the furnishings to take his mind in a different direction. "Beautiful things, for a beautiful woman."
She blushed. "Thank you. My Danyel finds these things, things to make the old ways better." She tilted her head and smiled gently at the man in front of her. "He is with the two little ones at the old temple in the desert, but he will come soon, I think."
Daniel nodded, wordlessly, his eyes drinking in her presence to his very soul.
Sha'uri, still nervous, watched him for a moment then turned to look at her husband's friend, O'Neil. "I will bring you caf'ee, or water." She glanced back at the similar but unfamiliar man then back to O'Neil.
The bearded man smiled gently at her. "That'd be great, honey. I'll stay here with the ...guests." Emphasis on the last word, brought Jack's attention back to him. As the young matron left the room, he glanced at the younger man as Daniel watched her leave. "She is my best friend's wife, you know..."
Daniel looked at him with shocked eyes. "I'd never hurt her!" He protested. "What are you saying?"
The dark man looked piercingly at him then crossed the room and opened a large ornately carved trunk. There, he carefully put his M-16 down into it's interior and then he removed his web belt, holster and pistol. He then secured the trunk with a bolt. "Not on purpose, Dr. Jackson, never on purpose," he stood and looked back at Daniel's surprised expression. "But this is a married woman with little ones and a loving husband here. You...you are the different one."
O'Neill looked sidewise at his alter ego. "What's that supposed to mean?" He asked grimly.
O'Neil returned the expression. "That he" ... indicating Daniel... "obviously loved his wife. Loved her so much that he is having a lot of trouble right now...and that I shouldn't have brought him here." He shook his head regretfully. "I am sorry, Dr. Jackson."
"No...I'm the one who should apologize..."
In the background, the three men could hear the door opening. A chattering of childish voices proceeded the group inside the room. Suddenly, small girl approximately four years old, wearing a knee length robe and long sandy colored hair flying loose around her shoulders, raced into the room to stop suddenly and stare at the three tall men. Her giggles turned to wide-eyed bashfulness. The bearded soldier knelt down next to her and spoke gently, "Hey, Claire...what's up?"
Suddenly she threw her arms around his neck and hid her face in his shoulder. She giggled into his graying ponytail.
Jack smiled at the child's universal body language. He smiled and circled his other self until he could make eye contact with the little girl. "Hey, you shy?" Bright blue eyes met his brown ones. "Why are you so shy?"
She giggled, and hid her face again. O'Neil grunted at him to get his attention. Jack looked up to see the two Daniel's looking at each other in amazement.
Daniel of Abydos was standing in the arched entrance into the living area. The man had a small boy-child about two years old perched on his hip with the ease of old habit. He had pushed the hood of his cloak from off his head and was frankly staring at the other man standing in front of him. This Daniel's hair was long, longer than Jack could ever remember seeing it, down past his shoulders. It was a light shade of sandy blond, bleached from spending long hours in the desert sun. He was also a darker tan, with deeper crinkles bracketing the eyes. His spectacles had a white blob of twine holding the frame together. Somehow, he seemed smaller than his counterpart, less mass with perhaps a bit of a slump in the narrower shoulders. Where Sha'uri had seemed more mature, Daniel appeared older. He looked from this stranger in his house to his friend in confusion. "Jack? What's going on?"
"Daniel, we have guests...I'm not sure how, but we seem to be more than we thought we were."
The other Daniel glanced at his Jack and stepped forward with a hand extended. "Hello, Daniel." He tried to smile and really mean it. "I'm pleased to uh, meet you."
At his O'Neil's nod, Daniel stepped forward to take the offered hand. "I'm happy to meet you also. This, this is amazing! Where did you come from?"
Daniel answered his twin. "We came through the Stargate...from Earth...SGC Headquarters actually."
"SGC headquarters?" He tilted his head to the left, just a hairsbreadth, in a very familiar mannerism. "What's that?"
"Oh, yes, well, you wouldn't know about that. It didn't exactly exist yet when you left Earth, Daniel." Jack stepped back around his desert double. "It's good to see you...alive and well."
"Oh, my God." Daniel looked from the one Jack dressed in the burnoose and holding little Claire to the other oddly familiar man in a uniform. "Now, you...you I remember...I think." He laughed self-consciously. "I'm glad to see you're alive too." Daniel stepped forward to shake hands with him. "How's everyone else? Kowalski, Ferretti, Catherine?"
"Oh, well. Let's see, Catherine's fine, Ferretti is still with the SGC..." O'Neill shook his head; "we lost Kowalski several years ago."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Jack. I know he was your friend." After a moment, he glanced around and back at his counterpart and his own Jack O'Neil. "So, will someone tell me what the hell happened here?"
The desert O'Neil glanced over at the SGC Jack. Jack looked to his Daniel and nodded. The other Daniel had started to speak but Sha'uri entered the room and he stopped, frozen, watching her as she approached her husband.
Sha'uri crossed the room to his side and took the boy from her Danyel's arms. "Come, Jon'ee." The boy protested, holding on to his father's robes. She smiled at her two men and disengaged the tiny hands. "Na'ne, Jon'ee. Na'ne." Daniel murmured comfortingly to the child and handed him to his wife, kissing the dark hair of his son as he left his father's arms. The woman murmured something to her husband and he replied in their shared language. O'Neil put Claire down and she crossed over to follow her mother out of the room. Daniel could only stare as the family left his sight.
"Uh, Daniel..." Jack prompted.
"Oh, I'm sorry..." Daniel caught himself and blushed a little in embarrassment. "I...well, we were dialing out from the Alpha site to join our teammates on another planet. We wound up here... somehow." He shook his head. "At first we thought we were on our Abydos...but obviously not."
O'Neil nodded. "Obviously," He cleared his throat, catching his friend's eye.
Daniel of Abydos shook himself and realized he was failing in his duties as a host. "Uh, please, have a seat." He indicated the room's furniture. "I'll go and get some water, or..." he glanced at Daniel, "maybe some coffee?"
"What? Oh, that would be fine, great, actually." The two Colonels grinned at each other. Yep, no doubt about it, a Daniel stayed a Daniel.
Sha'uri had reentered the room carrying a tray with several drinking containers and some bowls balanced on it. Her Daniel went to help her but she spoke softly to him in a vaguely scolding tone. Daniel had to smile, Sha'uri had told her husband to leave the woman's work to her and not to embarrass her in front of their guests. His Sha'uri had said the exact same thing to him many times . O'Neil watched the byplay between the young couple with a grin for a moment, then turned to O'Neill. "What's this about the SGC? And a team?"
It was late in the afternoon. The two SGC men had returned to the old temple for the night. Their host, O'Neil, had been required to stay behind to take care of some city business with Daniel, so they had come back on their own. They had been in a deep discussion about what had happened to the Stargate to make it switch into a 'Quantum phase' as Daniel called, it referring to the Mirror episode he had endured. But without Carter and her insight into the physics of the situation, the two were unsuccessful in developing any theory to cover it or plan to overcome it. Their only answer seemed to be trial and error dialing, which they had agreed to attempt in the morning after a good night's sleep. Jack was frustrated and Daniel had a migraine. Finally, as the light was failing, O'Neill called it a day.
As they emerged from the temple they were met by the dynamic duo of Abydos. O'Neil and Jackson had come to the building bearing a bottle of Firewater compliments of the militia and brought enough food for an evening meal for all four of them. After the men had eaten, the discussion circled around to the next day's plans.
"So, what? You're just going to dial out to these new co-ordinates and hope like hell that you wind up back where you belong?" O'Neil couldn't believe that he, in any universe, would try something so asinine.
O'Neill nodded, cautiously sipping the alcoholic drink from his mess kit cup. "We don't have a lot of choice here. If all things stay the same, we'll be suffering from those parallel universe collywobbles in another twelve hours or so." He glanced at his Daniel who nodded in agreement with his leader. "And I'd rather not do that, thanks very much."
"Entropic cascade failure," his Daniel filled in. "If you stay too long in an alternate universe with another version of yourself, your body starts to try and, well, tear itself apart."
Jack nodded, "Ugly, verrry ugly. Another one of our other team members had her alternate self cross into our reality. It started on her after a day or so."
"Well, it sounds risky to me." Daniel put in. "of course, what you do seems awfully risky to this Jackson."
O'Neil smiled wolfishly at his friend. "But it does sound exciting."
"When I started going through the Stargate," Daniel commented with a grin, looking down into his cup of liquor, "it was to search for Sha'uri and Skaara. The risk didn't matter, nothing mattered but finding them." He looked up at his twin. "But after a while, it became more commonplace, like getting on a train or an airplane and going to a new country." He shook his head; "Now, it's kind of like taking the commuter train to New York City. It's a little unnerving, a bit dangerous and sometimes inconvenient..." He smiled up at Jack. "But it's still fun and shopping on the other end is still worth the trouble."
Jack smiled back at him, then glanced at the other pair. "Well, the two of you have the best deal going anywhere in the whole galaxy. Beautiful women to love you and your kids growing up around you. That guys, is the road to true happiness." He gazed intently at his bearded counterpart. "And you, my friend, know it's true."
After dinner, Daniel walked out of the temple chamber and was standing looking up at the pyramid. The damage that this world's O'Neil had said was caused by the Army Engineer's was an ugly shadowed scar on the classically shaped structure. He still didn't understand what they had thought to accomplish by its mutilation, but he never pretended to understand the military mindset, even on his own planet. He heard a soft sound behind him and he glanced back over his shoulder to see the other Daniel coming up from the temple.
"Hello." The other man asked softly, "Am I disturbing you?"
He shook his head. "No, not really," Then he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, savoring the sun-warmed scent of the desert. "I was just enjoying the sensation of being home..." he remarked sadly. "Even if I'm not, really."
"Home?" Long haired Daniel looked at him curiously. "I thought you lived on Earth?"
"Yes, yes I do, now. But Abydos was the first place I really felt like I belonged." He turned and looked at Daniel. "But you know that already."
The other man nodded. "I understand. Funny, I've never missed Earth, even the first year I lived here."
He looked at his counterpart. "But things were different here than in your reality. I never closed the gate, the military never left, and Jack, well, he was gone about two months and then came back divorced."
"Was it bad?"
"Well, it wasn't good. It's one thing to want to kill yourself because of something you think you did. It's something else to be told that the only person you've ever loved wants you to go away and never come back. It does terrible things to you. At first I thought he was going to commit suicide by alcohol, you know kind of take the long painful way into it. He'd quit the Marines, retired...and then Kasuf had this idea to put him in charge of training the young warriors that were coming up. It worked, thank goodness."
Daniel nodded. "But he started over again."
"Yes, Seja is actually Sha'uri's cousin, Kasuf's niece, from another city several days journey from here. She came to help out when Claire was born, and by the time Sha'uri's confinement was up they'd noticed each other. Jack was spending a lot of time with the family at Kasuf's house anyway and when things got back to normal, he asked for permission to court her. Everything just fell into place." Daniel smiled. "When the girls got pregnant at the same time, it was really wild around here. We had to bring in Seja's younger sister to help and now Skaara's going to marry her...after the next babies are delivered."
"Where's Skaara now? I was hoping to meet him."
"He's at his future in laws' place discussing bride price and other family matters. Jack didn't care about the dowry, but Skaara's a little bit more concerned about appearances since he's going to be headman here after Kasuf." He glanced knowingly at the other man. "Seja was a widow so not as uh, desired as this girl is. Shania is still virgin so she has all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with elevated status. Sha'uri and I will be her protectors from the evils of men until the ceremony takes place early next year so she'll be here to help out at our wives' lying in."
"So you, Jack, and Skaara are now, or will be related."
"Yes, we're clan brothers and tribal relatives." Daniel nodded; pleased to see the other man understood the Abydonian family structure. "And how about you?"
"Me? Oh, you mean Jack and I. Best friends, brothers in arms, father and son, occasionally it will change to bully and victim..." He looked back towards the campsite. "But he saved my life and sanity when Sha'uri and Skaara were taken. I went back to earth with him, he got me on his team and we spent the next three years searching." He dropped his eyes to the ground then turned to look out into the shifting desert sands. "We found Sha'uri, but well, we couldn't save her. We were able to help rescue Skaara. He went with the Tok'ra for a while, to adjust to being himself again. He may be back with his father and his people by now." Daniel shrugged. "Kasuf was looking forward to having his son back. That's something anyway."
"You look so different than I do." The other Daniel said quietly. "Sha'uri really commented on it."
"I am different," he sighed. "I've changed so much; sometimes I don't even recognize myself. Not because of Jack, he's tried to protect me from the big bad universe, but because of what I've seen and had to do. I'm almost more soldier now than scientist. It's not what I would have wanted, but well, it's the way it is."
"But you must have seen some wonderful things, traveling from one planet to another, done exciting important things."
"Oh, yes." Daniel agreed. "Wonderful things; but some pretty horrible things too. Jack's right. You've got the better of the two of us. Never doubt it."
"It seems like everything I do here is so mundane, so commonplace..."
The SGC Daniel looked at his alternate self with disbelief. He turned and grasped the other man by his shoulders, taking him by surprise, and made him look into his eyes. Giving him a hard shake, he spoke in a hot, angry voice. "Don't you ever say that! Never, ever even think it! You have everything I have ever dreamed of wanting. You have a place where you belong! You have people who respect and love you, a family that needs you! My God, you have Sha'uri! Don't you ever, ever wish for anything else!"
Surprised at his own violence, he released his double and stepped back from the other man, but kept on in a lower, angry tone. "I would give my soul to the Devil himself to have what you have and take for granted for even one day! Don't you ever cheapen it!" He turned quickly away from the other, looking back out into the burning waste, biting his lower lip till he drew blood. "And if something or someone tries to take her away from you, you pick up a rock, or a stick, or a knife, and you fight as hard as you can. You fight until your hands can't hold a weapon and your blood and your strength soak into the sand...but don't you ever let anything happen to your Sha'uri... because, believe me when I tell you, your life won't be worth living without her; and you'll hate yourself every morning for the rest of your life because you failed to protect her! Do you understand me!" He hissed at his more fortunate self. "Do You!" His voice broke as a sob forced it's way to the surface.
The longhaired scholar looked at him in shock, but managed to nod his comprehension at his other self's tense, vibrating back. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean...."
Daniel nodded, keeping his back to the other man, unable to say anything more. He stood there, staring at nothingness for a long while, until he felt a hand reach out and touch his shoulder. "Danny?"
He could tell it was Jack standing behind him. He became aware of the strong hand squeezing his shoulder.
"Come on, Danny. Let's let these nice people go home and we'll get some shut-eye, okay?"
He nodded, shamefaced. Then he looked over at the other two men who stood watching them. He took a deep breath and blew it out. "I'm sorry. I apologize." He shook his head in embarrassment. "I uh, I'm just a little tired. Excuse me, please." He turned and left the three men alone.
Jack O'Neill watched his friend cross the desert floor and go back into the temple. He turned back to the other pair. "Look, I'm sorry this happened. Daniel's been under a lot of pressure lately and...."
Daniel had watched his twin walk back into the temple. "No, please, don't apologize." He glanced up at his O'Neil. "He's right. He's right and I, I'm a fool." The other man nodded to him.
"Wait a minute, there's something I want to tell you," O'Neill gestured after his friend. "about him. I don't know what all he said to you because we only heard the last part, but...he has spent the last four years of his life in hell because of what happened to his wife." Jack sighed. "He came back with me to Earth, he fought to get on my team, he argued to go off world, he's worked to get trained physically, he's learned to shoot a gun and he's learned to kill. Daniel's been wounded, tortured, hell he's even died once or twice. All to find his wife, all to make it up to her, and then finally he had to watch a friend kill her to save his life." He shook his head, "There are a lot of things that Daniel deserves in this life, but living with your condemnation isn't one of them."
The other Daniel looked at him. "No, not disapproval. Never that. I'm the last person who has the right to criticize him. And I'm the last person he has to explain himself to, because I understand him." He then glanced at his own O'Neil. "Jack, I think it's time for us to go home, where we belong."
The bearded O'Neil nodded to his friend. "Daniel Jackson, I always said that you were the smartest man I know." He slapped him lightly on the back.
"No, Jack...but I am teachable." He looked over at the other man and nodded.
"We'll come back in the morning with breakfast to see you off." Jack said, indicating the temple. "I think you have more pressing business right now."
Jack O'Neill nodded in agreement. "Thanks, see you in the morning."
Jack entered the temple area to find his Daniel sitting cross-legged by the fire, sipping a cup of the strong, hot Abydonian coffee that the other two men had brought them. He looked up at his commander and friend.
"Well, that sure ended a nice evening," He commented wryly.
"It's one of the things I admire about you Daniel." Jack teased him back, relieved to see that his friend had calmed down. "You do know how to make an exit."
Daniel grimaced. "I feel really bad, Jack. He didn't do anything to deserve all of that."
Jack chuckled. "No, but you definitely got him to think about what he does have." He shook his head as he poured himself a cup of the steaming liquid. "And appreciating that is not a bad thing."
The younger man nodded wordlessly. "Do we need to keep night watch?" He asked changing the subject.
"Nah, O'Neil detailed the Militia to keep an eye on us." Jack pulled his boots off and unrolled his sleeping bag, being sure to keep within arm's reach of Daniel's bedroll. "I'm not sure whether we're being guarded for protection or surveillance, but either way, nothing will get past those boys. I feel pretty safe with them out there."
Jackson nodded. "Yeah, I imagine between their desert skills and Jack's Special Forces training, they're pretty good at their job."
"Oh yeah, as Teal'c would say...I have confidence." He watched as Daniel banked the fire and crawled into his sleeping bag.
As the light from the campfire faded, Jack could hear his friend shifting restlessly in the nylon bag. "Go to sleep, Daniel." Jack said the ritual words as he had on countless worlds, hoping that they would give his friend peace in the darkness.
The next morning found Jack O'Neil and Daniel Jackson trudging across the several miles of desert to the Stargate temple. Daniel had been unusually quiet during their journey. Jack would glance at him occasionally but had not broached the subject with his friend.
Finally, the younger man turned to him with a smile. "He's right, you know."
"Oh, yeah." Jack nodded. "He is so right, Daniel, that it hurts to think about it." He cast his eyes sideways to his friend. "Doesn't it?"
"Yes, it does." Daniel shook his head, the long bangs getting into his eyes. "And I baited him into it, talking about how humdrum my existence is here."
"A red flag before a bull, my friend."
"I mean, he's so different from me." The other man continued. "He looks so much, well bigger and stronger than me, much more a soldier."
Jack glanced at his best friend. "Looks, Daniel, are only skin deep after all. Look into his eyes." He said softly as he looked at his friend. "He has the oldest eyes I've ever seen on a man." O'Neil shook his head. "He may look stronger, but he's seen things that have hurt him, scarred him very deeply. He dreams, Daniel, and they're not good dreams. Believe me, I know."
When they arrived at the temple, O'Neil waved at the Militia members on the sand dunes above the campsite. Daniel looked at his friend in surprise. Jack merely shrugged. "I thought I'd give them a break from guard mount last night. Jack saw them before we left; though I think he might have thought they were being guarded for another reason." Then, he waved down at O'Neill as the other man came out of the antechamber and stretched, looking around at the immediate area. At the returned gesture, the two men approached the camp.
"Good morning." Jack called to them. "Coffee's hot."
"Good, so's Seja's date and nut bread." O'Neil responded to his greeting, by opening his haversack. "She baked it fresh this morning for you."
"You're a lucky man, O'Neil!"
"Sure, and aren't I the one to know it."
Daniel had opened his bag and pulled out some dried meat, fresh fruit, and a soft creamy cheese. "Where's your Daniel at?" He looked around concernedly.
"Oh, he's still trying to wake up." O'Neill glanced fondly towards the temple. "Daniel is many things, but an early riser is not one of them. I'll go and...."
"No, please. Let me." The younger man flashed him a quick smile. "I'd like to talk to him again, if it's all right."
Jack looked at him quizzically. "Sure, suit yourself. Just remember, duck to your left, he's got a mean right cross but he telegraphs it."
Daniel looked at him in confusion then his own Jack made a punching movement in the air. "Uh, thanks, I think."
The two old soldiers watched this universe's Daniel enter the temple with a concerned look; the SGC O'Neill just shook his head. "They'll be fine. Danny knows he went over the top last night. I'm afraid your Daniel found a few buttons to push by accident."
Entering the still dim temple precincts, Daniel squinted to see his other sitting up on the bedroll. The other man appeared to have had a rough night; the nylon sleeping bag was in disarray, the pillowcase half off the cushion. He had not put on his boots or his glasses yet and looked vulnerable and very young sitting there in the shadows.
Daniel looked up at him, still not quite alert. "Morning." He reached over to the embers of the campfire and hefted the old fashioned, soot-stained coffeepot. "Feels like Jack left us about two cups. Want one?"
"Yes, thanks." Daniel settled down Indian fashion across the fire from the other man.
Daniel ran his hands through his short brown hair, put his glasses on, and blinked at the visitor. "That's better." He murmured to himself. Then he paused and reached back into his pack feeling around its bottom. He pulled something out and extended his hand towards the other man. "Here, they're a newer prescription than what you've got on, but I'm sure it's still close enough to help you."
Curious, Daniel took the small case and opened it up to find a pair of metal-framed spectacles. "Thanks! Thanks a lot." He enthused gratefully. "This is great! It's my one big fear. If I ever had to do without, I'd be in serious trouble."
"Yeah, I know. I always carry at least one extra pair when I go off world. It's such a pain in the ass."
The two Daniels sat in companionable silence for a while, then they both started to speak at the same time. They looked at each other for a moment then the longhaired Daniel motioned to his other to go first.
"I just wanted to say I'm sorry about last night. I was way out of line and it's not my business or my life. I, uh, ...."
The other Daniel interrupted him. "No, no. You were right...about everything." He shook his head, the bangs working their way behind his glasses' frames. He brushed them out with his hand. "I, well, I know better. I really do. My home and my family are everything to me. I guess I got a little too wrapped up with stuff here recently. With Kasuf and Skaara out of town and Sha'uri pregnant again, the walls just seem to close in once in a while." He shook his head. "You've got to know, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for her." He looked directly into the other Daniel's eyes. "I love her more than anything, the kids too. I'd die before I'd let anything happen to them. They're my life."
"I know, believe me, I know. You are me, after all." Daniel took his glasses off and pressed the heel of his hand against the bridge of his nose and sat there for a minute. "I still have a lot of guilt over my Sha'uri. You see, I'm the one who failed her. I'm the one who let her be taken."
"No, I don't believe that, Daniel." The other man shook his head in denial. "I won't believe it."
"Well, you can." He took another deep breath. "I wasn't with them. Sha'uri and Skaara were here in the temple. I was off at the cartouche temple with Jack and his team." He shook his head. "I thought that I had found the treasure at the end of the rainbow. I couldn't wait to show it off to Jack, to let him see what a great thing I'd done. Hell, I hadn't even begun to translate everything. Sha'uri had told me about it, and we went out and found it. But when Jack came back, I couldn't wait to take him to it. I told her and Skaara to wait for me here...and when we got back, they were gone. Everything blown up, people dead and wounded lying everywhere. The next time I saw my wife, she was changed, possessed by a monster." Daniel closed his eyes and tilted his head back, still remembering the day as it was burned into his mind. "I'm the one who failed my Sha'uri...not you. I'm the one who ruined her life and mine, not you. You still have what you earned, and me...I've gotten what I deserved."
The two men sat silently for a long while. Finally, Daniel of Abydos spoke. "You know, Daniel, part of my job, my responsibility here is to be a Judge in criminal and civil matters. I decide if a crime has been committed, who's got the law on their side, who's at fault and ultimately, I have to decide what the punishment is going to be for a crime that's been committed against a person or against the community as a whole." He sat back and looked at the man across the burned out fire. "And I'd like to tell you what I see here." No answer came from the other, so he continued. "I see sitting in front of me an ordinary man. He's tired and heartbroken, and he thinks he's without hope. But one thing I'm sure of, and that is that he's not guilty of the crimes that he accuses himself of." He paused a moment, and when Daniel looked up at him to speak, he shook his head and continued on. "Yes, something horrible happened to his family. I can't even imagine how I would feel or what I would think if, God forbid, it happened to me. But I do know this, that the man in front of me would have done anything in his power up to and including spending his own life to prevent it from happening. But, this man wasn't there. He couldn't have prevented it because he was somewhere else. Now, I don't think this guy is psychic, and I'm sure that he didn't have any foreknowledge of what was about to happen to his family, because if he had known, or even had a vague idea about it, he never would have left. He never would have done anything to put them at risk. Furthermore, I think that this man has spent the last years of his life searching for his family and seeking ways to prevent it from ever happening to anyone else's family." The Judge of Nagada paused in his findings. "I know this for truth, because I have looked into his heart, his soul and into his eyes."
Daniel looked up at his double across the fire circle. He could see the two Jacks standing back against the doorway, loath to enter the chamber until they had finished talking.
"So, here's my decision, and my findings." Daniel of Abydos passed his verdict on his other self. "I find you, Daniel Jackson of Earth, innocent of any wrong doing, but I see you suffering greatly from self-inflicted guilt where there should be none. My decision is that you should continue on as an archaeologist, linguist, and historian trying to understand and prevent things like this from ever happening to any innocent ever again. And your punishment is to have to listen to your friends, and I'm sure you have enough, tell you that what happened was not your fault in any way, shape or form. That you could not have prevented that horrible nightmare from happening. That the sacrifice of your life would not have mattered one iota. But now, my friend, my brother, myself, you have made a way for it to matter. And I honor you for what you have done and will do as you continue on." Daniel stopped speaking and looked over at the two men standing at the doorway watching and nodded to them.
The SGC's Daniel was sitting there, with tears in his eyes, not moving. There came a soft whispering sound as his Jack crossed the room to kneel in front of his Daniel. He paused for a moment, then gathered his distraught friend to him.
Daniel of Abydos sat quietly until he too felt a presence next to him. He looked up and saw his own O'Neil standing above him. Jack was offering him his hand. Daniel took it, clambered to his feet on stiff legs and they left the temple to wait outside for when the other two were ready to join them.
Jack O'Neil looked over at his friend, taking in the long scruffy hair, the tanned face with the laugh lines around the eyes and the new pair of spectacles. "You do the damnedest things, Professor."
"I do, don't I?" The other man agreed, nodding as he bit into a piece of Seja's now cold bread. It still tasted good though. "What do you think?"
"Well, I do like your new glasses." Jack mentioned. "They make your eyes look, well, younger."
"It's 'cause they are."
Inside the temple, Jack was holding his Daniel in his arms as he wept, rocking him and stroking his back. Damn the man. Was he trying to make them both crazy? It wasn't bad enough that he had the life that his Danny wanted with all his heart and soul, but he had to play these games with him too! Nobody had the right to hurt another human being the way he'd just hurt his friend. First the incident last night, then the nightmares, now this. Just how much was his buddy supposed to take, for crying out loud, before the apparently angry universe just left him the hell alone? O'Neill held him and rocked him and murmured comforting things to him; waiting for the storm to pass. Then he was going to go outside and tell the dynamic duo of Abydos to go get the hell as far away for from them as they could get and leave them the hell alone until they figured a way out of here and off their damned planet!
Daniel was cried out at last. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. Jack had him in a strangle hold, pulling him up against his chest and allowing him to burrow into his shoulder area. He stayed there, comfortable, breathing in the familiar Jack smell of sweat, worry, and the after shave that Cassie Fraiser had gotten him for Christmas last year. He could hear Jack's heart beating rhythmically if a little faster than normal. He knew Jack was angry, on his behalf, because of its tempo. He rubbed his cheek against the cotton BDU shirt, out of place here in the desert because they were supposed to be on a tropical island with Sam and Teal'c by now. They were probably worried about them. The two had than likely gone back to the SGC when they hadn't shown up yesterday, so now everyone was probably worried about them. He sighed.
Jack released him and pushed him slightly away so that he could look at his friend. "Hey." He said softly.
Daniel sniffed. "Hey."
"You don't look okay."
Daniel tried a soggy smile. "Better?"
"No, but I'll take it." He squeezed the back of Daniel's neck causing goose bumps to raise on the younger man's arms.
"Daniel, what he said..."
"Don't go outside and try to kick their asses."
"Why not?" Jack blustered. "He deserves it!"
"Well, his ass you could probably kick...but I'm not so sure you could kick Jack's. He looks meaner than you."
Jack stared at him. "He does?"
Daniel managed a sodden grin. "Oh, yeah."
"Any other reason?"
"Well, I guess he did make me feel a little better."
"Yeah, he told me that I couldn't have done anything if I'd have been there except die or been taken too."
"True." Jack appeared mollified.
"You never told me that."
"Daniel, you're a smart guy. I thought you knew it."
"You did know it, didn't you?" Jack looked at him. "I mean the part about your getting killed. It wouldn't have made a difference, except we probably wouldn't have gotten Skaara back either, and Sha'uri would still be possessed by Ammunet, and of course you'd still be dead."
"No, I guess I never stopped to think about it."
"Oh, well you can add in that Apophis and Klorel would have conquered Earth, the replicators would have taken over the Asgard and jeez, several other hundred things would have happened that I can't begin to remember right now. You catching my drift?"
"Yes, I guess so."
"I didn't hear much of the end." Jack admitted. "I was getting a little pissed off about that time."
"You mean when he sentenced me?"
"What? Yeah, then." O'Neill was looking unhappy again. "What did he say?"
"That I to have to listen to my friends tell me that what happened wasn't my fault in any way, shape or form and that the sacrifice of my life wouldn't have made a difference." He looked into Jack's face. His friend seemed much less angry.
"He's right, ya know."
Several hours later, the camp was picked up and packed and the four men were almost finished with preparations for their departure. The women, Sha'uri and Seja, with the children in tow had arrived an hour earlier to bid their husbands' kin farewell. Daniel hung back a little, his nerves were still a bit on the raw side, and he didn't want to risk upsetting the pregnant Sha'uri. Her husband had stayed close with them when he gave her his good wishes and reverently kissed her farewell. Jack on the other hand, was having a good time playing with the kids and was showing signs of regret at having to leave. The other O'Neil was watching all of his attention with fondness and perhaps a bit of caution.
Finally the time had come for their final parting. As the two pair of men said their final farewells to each other, the parting wishes were for a good journey and safe arrival at the proper co-ordinates.
O'Neil and O'Neill stood together watching their Daniels talk for a final time. The Abydonian Daniel was obviously more at ease this time now, giving some advice to his counterpart and appearing somewhat older and more mature in his body language. The other short-haired Daniel nodded as he listened to his counterpart. Then the two men laughed, and the sound sparkled across the warm desert air to cause smiles on both of the Jacks' countenances.
O'Neill glanced over at his double. "I don't hear that sound enough," He commented sadly.
"Sounds to me as if you should make it a mission." O'Neil cocked an eyebrow at him and extending a hand to shake his. "It needs to be heard more often."
"Take care of yourself," O'Neill replied taking the offered hand. "And take care of them."
"You can count on it." O'Neil nodded. "You, you take care of that one, and the rest of your team of course."
"You can put good money on it." As the two men parted, the Daniels separated also. One went to his wife and children, the other to his team leader and friend. "Dial us home, Daniel, and we'll try to figure out what to say to the General when he asks us where we've been A.W.O.L. to for two days."
Daniel smiled and waved at the two families, then started hitting the symbols for Earth/SGC headquarters on the DHD. The wormhole kawooshed and then settled into the familiar event horizon. He looked at Jack who nodded to him, and then he waved goodbye to the gathered crowd. He turned, put his hand on Daniel's shoulder and the two explorers walked into the swirling pattern to disappear forever from these sands of this Abydos and the what might have been of these, their other lives.
Read the slash sequel: Alternate Reality: A Tragic Story